tv Burton and Anita Folsom Discuss Death on Hold CSPAN November 24, 2016 9:00pm-9:36pm EST
you can watch them on a website, booktv.org. >> what do you do here? >> i direct the premarket forum which is a pressure all over north america. economics and political science. >> host: what is your goal? >> guest: college professors at other campuses get more information in free markets and current events and give them material. >> host: how long have you been here? wikipedia 10 years. >> host: how many books have you written or cowritten? >> guest: cowritten 3 books with my husband. happy to be here to talk about this. >> host: what do you usually write about? >> guest: interested in entrepreneurs, the rise of the united states becoming a world
power, what propelled the united states to achieving that greatness. >> host: if you had to narrow that down into a soundbite, what would be? >> the ability of entrepreneurs and premarket setting with property rights to establish tremendous economic development. >> where did you two meet? >> at murray state university. he was a very young seller then and i was a lot younger. i graduated and working in the department and he was there as a very young teacher so we began banking. >> you are from kentucky? >> originally from western kentucky at his from nebraska. >> the best student in the first class i ever taught at emory state university. after she graduated i had my --
>> prior to coming to hillsdale. >> in houston, texas, sugarlands, bert worked for a foundation in houston, we lived in the houston area for four years and before that, bert was at the center for public policy in michigan and before that he taught for 18 years at marine state. >> what is your connection to washington dc? young american foundation? >> the events group sponsor, especially the young america foundation, a lot of events they do for college students, for high school students and college students to teach the principles of the united states. >> why are you conservatives? >> i am a conservative because i believe the principles conservatives or free-market
thinkers use work best for people. we study the economy, centuries of us history. the principles that free markets follow work. if you study the administration of franklin roosevelt he came up with ideas but they don't work. the policies of president roosevelt prolonged to the great depression. >> freedom works and the voluntary exchange working with one another, competition incentive to do well, all of it works well in freedom creates not only happiness but more prosperity in society. the more the united states moved in that direction the better we have become. in the late 1800s and early 1900s, world leader than economic development. >> what is the process like to call right a book?
>> difficult writing a book with your spouse. >> we have done three and survived it. part of it is we each have expertise in certain areas. we leave the other one around in that area and we are writing chapters and the other one edits the chapters, that sometimes stirs up controversy. we have done well. the lord had guided us and we produce three books together. >> your most recent book is not on economic history or free markets. what is it about? >> a prisoner we got to know in 1983 for the first time, on death row again. he was under the death sentence, killed a man in alabama and was in a prison in alabama on death
row in 1983, time magazine published an article on the death penalty, a large cover story, the death penalty was much debated in the 80s, just become by use again in the united states and time magazine wrote an article about it and we read it and bert, we both were struck by the story. bert was the one who took action on that. >> i read the story and a described rutledge as being retarded, said he couldn't rewrite, nobody did accept his lawyer. the things that struck me about the story and time magazine. it was a lucky story, mitch was the only person interviewed in the article, he admitted i did it as it was wrong and i apologize for it. couldn't read or write, subject
to the death penalty, and the author of the piece in time magazine included his life was not worth anything, he was a disposable person and so i was shocked he would draw that conclusion, who should remarks or what he did. here he was in a prison and couldn't sleep thinking about this and from a christian standpoint he has got to be executed a year away from being executed and because he is sorry for what he did the lord can forgive him, he can still go to heaven, receive jesus as savior but he can't read or write. how can i communicate with him. if god is in this good things will happen, i write him a letter. >> the article said he was at home in business so i went to
annapolis, i had to write home in prison, home in alabama and the zip code in alabama, turns out i picked 20 northern alabama so it was off. i wrote this letter in block letters saying sorry for what you did but you can be forgiven and still go to heaven. a short letter. signed it. i wasn't sure he was going to get it but if he does, i discharged my duty. the lord wanted me to do something and i felt the need to do this and i did it and a couple weeks later a letter came back in the mail. and didn't have his prisoner either and mail was hard to get through without somebody
somehow, it turns out i found out later he had another prisoner read the letter and he was able to compose because he couldn't read, able to compose a letter to me in broken english thanking me for the letter and wanted to continue and was sorry for what he had done. anita became involved and that became our correspondence and relationship. >> how many letters were written back and forth? >> hundreds and hundreds, we don't have the early letters, the first is in our position because we turned them in at the upcoming court hearing mitchell has gone through but hundreds and hundreds, we visited him the following year in 1980 or, we needed to go to florida anyway,
alabama, we wrote and said would you like to have a visit. >> the first thing you get in? >> i had been at two others, years before in western kentucky with a church group and in the early 1980s in the philippines, went to a maximum security prison in the philippines with another christian group where there was an active christian ministry to maximum-security prisoners. >> incidental to other work. not anything we wanted to be involved in. >> these were not long-term ongoing ministries. this was one for each place. with mitchell, all these letters we felt we would go visit him. >> what was your biggest concern? >> my biggest concern was communicating with him. i had been in two other prisons.
i know a little bit to visit with one man. >> uneducated african-american prisoner. >> his letters were still very hard to understand, written english was so bad, he went all through public school, never graduated from high school, didn't learn to read, mainly went to high school when he was 14, 15, 16, that was his only meal of the day on the street much of the time so he would get his free lunch and never learned anything and so i was concerned what to speak about that we drove down to alabama just outside, very small southern town, and small southern town, we pulled up to the prison early one morning to visit him and it was your typical
maximum-security prison, guards in the tower, razor wire all around the fence and pushed the button, they possess through, and at that time death row inmate, we were the only visitors in the room that day. we sat there for 10 or 15 minutes, they search you and sat down at one of the tables with schools around it and all attached to the floor so no one can pick up, it was a somber environment and in a few moments we heard noise outside visiting rooms and opened the door taking handcuffs off of a tall black man and he looked at us and i thought that was the picture. he walked in and we shook his hand and that was erin tradition -- introduction to mitchell
rutledge. it was obvious mitchell was extremely nervous when he walked in. this was his first time in the visiting room. here were two white people he didn't know, never had a visitor and the thought immediately occurred to me, why is he so nervous? we are the ones who should be nervous. >> when that door shuts behind you you realize i am locked in this room, quite an eerie feeling. >> he really wanted this visit to work, he wanted to have some friends, someone he could communicate with on the outside. we sat down and talked. he was very surprised, here was a very interesting young man, his grandmother and the way he spoke was not what we were accustomed to but he was very articulate in his own way. >> and very smart. that surprised me. as a college professor you are used to dealing with young
people and their minds. he was above average in intellect and i thought any emotional intelligence, the way he connected with people and related to the world, way above average. >> how to the prison administration treat you two showing up at this maximum-security prison? >> they -- because we came back regularly they have been very friendly. as i say they recognized how important business are 2 prisoners. we began to understand later over the years they are an incredible element because if you have someone on the outside who cares about you that elevates you. it sends a signal to outsiders, you can't miss with this guy too much because he has people who care about him. they probably half the people,
no visitors at all, that separates mitch and the others, no friends going into that the warrior was the only one who visited him, no one on the outside would even take a call from him. this was special for him and significant in our lives. >> this was 1984, 32 years ago. have you been visiting every year since? >> virtually every year. >> at least one. >> i have to go back to town. >> on saturday going out there. this saturday. >> you can only visit once every four weeks. >> why is that rule in place? >> overcrowding and state rules, every state is different. when we first got to know mitchell, he would visit every two week if he could get down there and we couldn't do that because we live the way and the visiting days available. a number of years ago the state
of alabama changed and lots of other states did too and now we can only visit once every four weeks and that is the only day we can go and you had to be there at certain times so you have to set your time up to make that day and if i don't visit this saturday we may not be him again until december because of the way the days fall. >> anita folsom, is it overcrowding, is that the purpose of the rule? >> that is what we understand but mitchell says he believes it is more a process to separate the men from the outside but i think it is simply overcrowding. that is my opinion. he is in donaldson prison, 1600 men. they have a visiting yard that will seat 40 families and they have visiting on saturday and sunday. mitchell's day is saturday. >> you are flying down to birmingham. >> yes. i have to go the night before
because to stay over you have to be in front of the prison at 7:00 am the next morning. >> you have to get up at 4:00 or 5:00, drive to the prison at 7:00, 7:30 and ready to go in because they take the cars in order, the visitors. if you are one of the first three you can get in and have extra time with your prison. it is important to be there somewhat early. >> you have to get in line, a lot of people get in line at 6:00 am but they start letting paul out through the fence at 7:00 and then you just get as long as you can to get too crowded, and after a few hours visiting, those are at 2:00. >> you read that article in time magazine in 1983, 2016 you are still visiting him in prison. >> he is a remarkable man. >> what happened to death row? >> he managed to be removed from
death row because of two trials he had. anita and i were there, anita was not able to come to the first one, our son was born, the second when she was there for and we were character witnesses to show that we cared about him and believed in him, we believed in his life was worth preserving and we made that argument to the jury and there were others who contacted mitch as well. a woman named lillian had become interested and not become interested in him so we had a few people there, his lawyer was hired by southern poverty law center, brought in to help mitch, did a great job and all of us went in and did our best to make the case this person should go home, being executed to have life without parole. we ultimately won the case.
1989. that was five years after our first visit. >> he is still in prison. any chance of parole? >> his sentence was reduced to life without parole. in alabama they passed laws in the meantime, the pardons done by president clinton in the 90s affected the life without parole sentences because of many states after the midnight parties of bill clinton as he was leaving office, he pardoned dozens and dozens of people, some of those were more for political favors than money involved but that is another story. it affected states because many legislators were concerned a future president or future governor might try, they changed the law. now in alabama life without parole, the only way mitch can get a pardon is by an act of the
state legislature. they would actually have to pardon him. >> we have been visiting the state legislature, state legislators. minor leader clint ross, we talked to, cam ward, the republican leader in resin reform, we talked with both of them, sympathetic and ready to listen to our case and we are working through the legislators hoping mitch will be able to receive that pardon, he has been in for a total of 36 years, he is a leader, our society would be better served having mitch on the outside, prevent them from going into prison or prisoners being released to lower the recidivism rate. >> at what point were the letters back to you coming in poetry form. how did that happen?
>> one of the other friends in his wife, sister lillian from california and jewelry after ten years, to visit him more regularly. be change lillian encouraged him, mitchell is a talented man so he began writing poetry early on about his condition, how small the bed was, he is on a short bed, 6 feet long, two feet ride, that really touched me, how hard it was. things about getting a pack of cookies on the weekends, how important that was but his poetry was very primitive but very touching. when we wrote the book we put the poems in the book as he
wrote them. and we kept his letters of course sister lillian made a point to keep all his poems and eventually printed and bound away, keep them all together. when we wrote the book we looked at those poems and tried to pull out the best ones showing mitch as he was and what he was thinking at the time. >> in 1983 where you a supporter of capital punishment? >> this is something we differ on a little bit which i was very hesitant about capital punishment. i thought it might be a deterrent and i believe bert was more actively a supporter of it. >> and still am.
i still believe it does work as a deterrent and the penalty for murdering another person, the consideration of the death penalty is appropriate. and mitch's case he did win that pardon is the pardon was available to him and he was able to demonstrate to a jury his life was worth preserving so within the legal system mitch did win his case but capital punishment needs to be considered still. >> several conversations going on in the country today about prison reform and whether or not these are correctional institutes or penal institutes. >> there is no rehabilitation, mitch says you have to rehabilitate your self but the atmosphere in the prison is unsuitable for rehabilitation. in effect prisoners are locked
up in a state of nature, mitch talks about knifings when he first came in, you see people in effect dominating other people, earning them a virtual slave system and the survival of the fittest, mitch once he became a christian, said i want to live that kind of life. the challenge, how to practice your faith in this atmosphere which is so dreadful for someone to practice his or her faith in. that is the difficulty mitch faces and the way he has done it, dealt with hostile people. and people who want to confront it, how he deals with them, talks with them and maneuvers them in a different direction,
quite impressive, mitch's actions, the way he is able to stand up for himself and a model for others. and selected as a teacher to be teaching other prisoners, he did learn to write, received college credit which and he was on death row and elected other prisoners as being there leader. he is a model for others. almost uniformly said mitch, you told my story as well. your life, your background is my story as well. >> at one of his trials you were accused of supporting him so you could write a book and profit on
this be change he has -- >> 30 years later. >> the other intention at the time. >> the prosecutor is doing his job. we haven't done any writing. he has written three history books and doing this for profit, what other motive could there be? >> he was convinced we were a rinker the defense had gotten in and too much to be true. and arguing for the release or removal of this prisoner from death row. some all interior motive he didn't understand that we were absolutely captivated, we believe in him, we are fighting
for him and believe in him and god guiding our relationship. >> exactly. >> when the book came out was mitch rutledge able to do any interviews or correspond with anybody in the press to talk about this book? >> not a great deal. there is a website that on hold book.com. nelson publishing, they actually have -- talking about his experience, his limited access, a friend in california working on a small documentary on mitchell and he has been able to get my permission from the state of alabama and went in and set up an interview, the interviewing mitchell takes a
lot of red tape to get in. >> anita folsom, our their too many people in prison in america today? >> i think there are. anywhere near everyone who is in prison should be in. we have seen there are a lot of people particularly men, who -- i am no expert but i would call them clinically insane, have to be separated from the public, they are dangerous and mitchell will tell you that. it is frightening. some of them have to be removed from society but there are people in prison who are in there who can't get out and do well and there are many people, many ministry groups working with prisoners when they get out. it is hard to identify everyone and if mitch says men have to
rehabilitate themselves, they have to get themselves together. the sad thing is so many men in prison have no one on the outside, no support groups. their parents are probably dead just as mitchell's are, mitchell's mother died at 29, gave birth to mitchell when she was 13, was 16 when his mother died, and so many men said mitch, this is my story too. they don't have parents her parents died in a drug shootout, drug overdoses and the main problem at least to all of this is the breakdown of the family. that is the national disaster we are dealing with. >> anything to add to that? >> if you look at the rise of the prison population in the united states in a 70s and 80s it follows the birth -- the rise of unwed mothers giving birth to
children, where the father was not present, and it was very significant and we always know when we go to visiting yard, to visit mitch weibel see a father which we don't often do. we see a father coming to visit the child in prison, we don't see many who have fathers, but when we do we know that prisoner has more hope than those without the male figure. >> what was it like for a former republican county chairman to work with the southern poverty law center? >> very interesting. a hero in this story. >> he is mitch rutledge's lawyer. we are still in touch with him. >> we are in touch with him. in the first trial, and subsequent hearing retrial hearing, dennis is from ohio
originally, when to the southern poverty law center to work down there, practically free of charge and in the southern poverty law center, only take desperate cases and he was pretty desperate so dennis took it to defend him and stuck with him through the hearing, it was pretty interesting, dennis being a practical attorney and a good one, he was glad to have character witnesses, he said i never expected two republicans to show up to testify and we chased him back. i said that because there were a number of people pro and con at the second hearing, resentencing hearing, sister lillian was there, we were there. >> a woman from virginia.
>> and admiral's daughter, she could not attend the trial but she was at home rooting for everyone and sister lillian was there and dennis even with his background was funny because he put sister lillian on the stand for the defense first, a very gentle person and was one of these, thought everyone should be let out and they do better next time. are ruining the whole thing or saying that, gave a lot of coaching and put me on the stand and put bert on the stand because he couldn't paint bert as a bleeding heart liberal so dennis was delighted we were there but did have to poke him a few times, i want you to know your two star witnesses are arch republicans here. he said i know that. >> he's delighted. it opened doors for us to
discuss political issues which often can't be done today on different sides. we have respect for one another and we help one another and we both enjoy being in the company of one another. >> much of it is in mitch's voice. is there a limit to the proceeds he can receive from this accused >> some people have wondered, we put it in mitchell's voice because we thought that was more effective. >> it was an interaction we could never interview him. the book was written by mitch writing letters which we would edit the letters, send them back at it edit our edits and go forward. it took years to write that book. >> mitchell had to give us the facts, some of the sentences in the book are mitchell at sentences. much is our taking mitchell's
wife and putting them together but we did the interviewing, we called all the characters involved, we interviewed dennis, some of the sisters, pam's sisters in the book, we interviewed sister lillian. we knew her very well. we talked to all these people to put it together and put it in mitch's voice but he didn't really write the book, and we had to fit it together and his speech and his grammar when you are writing a book you have to write a certain way, use a certain words, think about paragraphs and that is not what mitchell is thinking about but it is his story. >> this is similar to a lot of cases or situations brian stevenson from montgomery, alabama --
>> he works with death penalty prisoners, has been very effective and backed into it also. he didn't start wanting to do that, stumbled into it is >> "death on hold: a prisoner's desperate prayer and the unlikely family who became god's answer" is the name of the book. at the burton folsom and anita folsom, the website one more time. >> deathonholdbook.com. >> booktv is on twitter and facebook and we want to hear from you. sweet us, twitter.com/booktv or post a comment on our facebook page facebook.com/. >> with donald trump elected the next us president, aren't